• Aufbau Erde schematisch mit Statistiken im Hintergrund

Bionic fans at the heart of the Austrian Expo Pavilion

Trade fair Company in general

Symbiosis of Technology and Nature

The motto of the Expo World Fair is “Feeding the Planet. Energy for Life”. The aim is to combine technology, innovation, culture, tradition and creativity with the themes of energy for life and ensuring the ability to feed future generations. Austria for example is giving visitors the opportunity to experience the perfect combination of nature and high-tech: visitors to the Austrian pavilion will be greeted by a forest, providing a pleasant, cool temperature and fresh air – with bionic fans from Ziehl-Abegg located between the tops of the trees wafting the cooling air throughout the site.

“The Expo World Fair, the motto of which is sustainability, provided the motive for our central theme for 2015“, said Chairman of the Board Peter Fenkl, expressing his delight with its implementation in the Austrian pavilion as Ziehl-Abegg has declared 2015 as the “Blue Year – Energy for Life”. The global company has made a conscious decision to choose the colour blue: blue is a symbol of precious resources such as water and air and simultaneously the Ziehl-Abegg brand colour. An ever-increasing number of energy categories are also being accorded a blue label. For example the European certification agency Eurovent has now designated blue instead of green for category A.

Natural forests and the outstanding quality of the air are two of Austria’s key assets. The “breathe.austria” concept combines both themes to create an overall experience. “I am pleased about the fact that our extremely quiet fans – which imitate the sound of an owl’s wings – form the centrepiece of the Expo’s ‘green lungs’”, says Peter Fenkl, the Chairman of the Ziehl-Abegg Executive Board. The German company services the market for air-conditioning equipment manufacturers and system engineers in the Alpine region and many neighbouring East-European countries through its strong subsidiary in Austria.

The Austrian designers are attracting Expo visitors to the right place: when the high temperatures in Milan in the summer heats up the streets in the vicinity of the Pavilion, the Pavilion will be an oasis of relaxation. The landscape rises gently from the road, with visitors being greeted at the entrance by clouds of mist that spontaneously generate a cooling experience. This is enhanced by the shade from trees and the pleasant microclimate of a dense forest. “Expo is an opportunity to showcase Austrian expertise – from science and architecture, to innovative eco-technologies, through to art and design”, says Dr. Rudolf Ruzicka from the Austrian Federal Chamber of Commerce.

The 15-meter-high trees of the Pavilion tower over most of the other buildings, dominating the Expo skyline. All the plants in the Austrian forest will together produce oxygen for about 1,800 people (62.5 kilograms) per hour. Technical support for this effect in the Pavilion will be provided by evaporative cooling but without the need for any air conditioning units: the fresh air produced by the trees and humidified by the water mist is carried towards visitors by the fans. “The leaf area of all the vegetation in the Austrian Pavilion provides an evaporation surface area of around 43,200 m² over the 560 m² of the Pavilion” says the Head of Expo, Dr. Ruzicka.

The water vapour jets for moistening the areas of vegetation ensure a sufficient level of moisture penetration and a pleasant, fresh, forest smell. A pond area collects rainwater and serves as a water filter. The Austria Pavilion is a place that creates a harmonious combination of the seemingly incompatible - technology and natural diversity. The demands placed on the technology were correspondingly stringent: quiet, energy-saving and efficient, in other words it had to be conducive to the concept of an eco-friendly environment. “The wing shaped design of the fans reflects the latest knowledge in the field of bionics” explained the Chairman of the Executive Board, Fenkl. As in nature, based on the example of the owl, the canted edges prevent excessive air turbulence and avoid unnecessary noise. The guide vanes on the fans ensure that the pleasantly cool air is distributed over a very large area. “Specialists talk about an extremely wide flow range”, explains Fenkl. “We are delighted with just how quiet the fans actually are”, says University Professor Klaus K. Loenhart, who worked as the architect and chief designer.

The climate-active concept developed by the “breathe.austria team” demonstrates both the beauty as well as the benefits of nature. The Austrian companies Transsolar and Raintime are responsible for the successful realisation of the water mist. Ruzicka adds: “Austria has a tradition of “consideration for the environment — as well as of innovation in the area of sustainability”. This is another aspect that makes Austria’s contribution to Expo so consistent. As a prototype the Pavilion highlights a range of Austrian problem-solving skills – from solar technology to sustainable construction. Austria's message is: sustainable solutions for global problems are created in the intellectual combination of natural and technological processes. With its "breathe" contribution, the Austrian Pavilion places the focus on the country’s natural and technical expertise and at the same time tackles future issues relating to the use of this key resource.

Behind the scenes, control devices provide the staging for the various climate zones in the Pavilion:  Lisa Maria Enzenhofer, (breathe.austria team), can also use her smartphone to control the weather-dependent, dynamic choreography of the water mist (Transsolar/Raintime) in terms of the intensity of the water mist and airflow. The frequency inverters (from Ziehl-Abegg) also enhance the fans’ effectiveness and noise levels.

The Austrian forest, planted on the Expo grounds, makes a statement about air and climate that can be experienced by all the senses in the former industrial district in the North West of Milan and reinforces Austria's expertise in environmental technologies through energy self-sufficiency of the Pavilion and the natural regulation of the indoor climate (through evaporative cooling but without air conditioners). "As a manufacturer of state-of-the-art fans and electric drives we value the technical expertise of our customers in the Alpine region," emphasises Fenkl. At the same time, the CEO calls on all visitors to make sure they experience the Austrian Pavilion. "Because it superbly demonstrates how technology and nature can be work together in symbiosis - for the benefit of nature and mankind.”

Info on team.breathe.austria

  • Agency in Biosphere Markus Jeschaunig
  • Hohensinn Architektur – Karlheinz Boiger
  • LandLab /Ia&l TU Graz – Andreas Goritschnig and Bernhard König
  • Lendlabor- Anna Resch and Lisa Maria Enzenhofer
  • terrain: architects and landscape architects BDA – Klaus K. Loenhart

(alphabetical order)